Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz leads Washington state’s wildfire fighting force and manages nearly 6 million acres of public lands – from coastal waters and aquatic reserves, to working forests and farms, commercial developments, and unparalleled recreation areas.
Commissioner Franz is committed to ensuring our public lands are healthy and productive, both today and for future generations. She has led efforts to protect our communities and environment from the impacts of a changing climate, increased development, and wildfire.
Franz has also prioritized supporting local communities, both urban and rural. The lands she manages sustainably generate hundreds of millions of dollars for schools and public services, like libraries and hospitals. And she has allocated millions of dollars to spark economic opportunities in struggling rural communities. She knows that our working lands – and the communities that depend on them for family-wage jobs – are integral to our success as a state, and she is investing in their success.
Franz is a third-generation farmer and small forest landowner and has three boys who she raised on a farm. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and a juris doctor from Northeastern University Law School.
Honoring Phil Best as the 2023 Gary Allen Cunningham Conservation Award Recipient
Growing up in Silverdale, Phil attended CK schools, Olympic College, and UW Law School, was admitted to practice law in Washington (1965), worked for the state legislature then moved to Seabeck in 1967 to practice law in Kitsap County with an early focus on land use issues.
The Hood Canal Environmental Council, initiated with Gary Cunningham and others in 1969 in response to development pressures and inadequate zoning laws, has been addressing environmental issues on Hood Canal ever since. When Kitsap County implemented a conservation futures tax, Phil worked on the Open Space Council to help designate property to preserve. When they saw how land trusts and conservation easements could help preserve and restore land, they created the Kitsap Land Trust, which merged into Great Peninsula Conservancy. Phil has served as board member of HCEC, Kitsap Land Trust, and GPC. As a Kitsap County Commissioner (1995-1998), Phil helped the county come into compliance with the Growth Management Act and then represented Washington counties on the state Land Use Study Commission.
Phil is very grateful that his environmental passion is shared by his wife Karen, their children (Sarah, Mary, Aaron and Peter) and grandchildren, who use their family retreat on Hood Canal in that spirit.
The Gary Allen Cunningham Conservation Award recognizes a partner or volunteer who has made a significant contribution to GPC’s mission. Past recipients include: Dorothy Lind (2014), Chris Dunagan (2015), Paul Dorn (2016), Gary Cunningham (2017), Kate Kuhlman (2018), Ken Shawcroft (2019), Nancy and Dick D’Archangel (2020), Arthur Schick (2021), and most recently, Margaret “Kit” Ellis (2022).
2023 Conservation Celebration Sponsors
Great Peninsula Conservancy (GPC) is an accredited nonprofit land trust protecting the natural habitats, rural landscapes, and open spaces of west Puget Sound. Great Peninsula Conservancy has helped protect more than 11,000 acres in Kitsap, Mason, and west Pierce County. Our mission is to conserve vibrant forests, streams, shorelines and community greenspaces for the next generation.
We're excited to celebrate with you at Great Peninsula Conservancy's Conservation Celebration on Thursday, June 1st, 2023. A registration confirmation is on its way to your inbox now. Please check your spam folder if you don't see it and be aware that future communications about the event will come through email.
If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact Michelle Graves at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more details about the lands and waters that your ticket purchase supports, visit